Closer to Free 3: Make it your 'favorite day of the year'

Maureen Raucci, RN, welcomes YNHH newcomer Michael Holmes, senior vice president, Operations, and SRC integration officer, to the Closer to Free ride. Holmes will ride on September 7 with his 10-year-old-daughter. They stand in front of the bike that was passed among riders before they headed out on their rides last year.
Maureen Raucci, RN, welcomes YNHH newcomer Michael Holmes, senior vice president, Operations, and SRC integration officer, to the Closer to Free ride. Holmes will ride on September 7 with his 10-year-old-daughter. They stand in front of the bike that was passed among riders before they headed out on their rides last year.

More than 350 riders — 25 percent of whom are employees — have already signed up for the third annual Closer to Free Bike Ride on Saturday, September 7. If Maureen Raucci, RN, patient services manager, Medical/Oncology Unit, has anything to say about it, even more will have signed on by the day of the ride. With more than 60 riders, Raucci has developed the hospital's largest team — Live Positive.

"I talk to everyone and I invite them to ride," said Raucci, who will ride for the third time this year. "I tell every person who will listen to me: Closer to Free is my favorite day of the year — and it can be yours, too." To date, almost 50 of this year's riders are cancer survivors who will ride 25, 62.5 or 100 miles. "Survivors are some of our most dedicated riders," said Jessica Scheps, event specialist, Development, who helps organize the ride.

Tara Sanft, MD, medical director, Survivorship Clinic, Smilow Cancer Hospital, is a big fan of cycling as a physical activity in general and recommends it to her patients, as well.

"Cycling is great because it offers excellent cardio benefits, is easier on the joints than some activities and can reduce the risk of recurrence of certain cancers," said Dr. Sanft, who will ride again this year. "In general, with increased physical activity, patients have better outcomes."

"For employees, the benefits of riding in Closer to Free are more than physical because it makes you feel that you are part of a bigger movement," she said. "We work in health care for a reason and Closer to Free gives all of us the opportunity to support our cancer patients."

Closer to Free needs volunteers throughout the day and at locations along the routes. Volunteers are needed in various capacities, but some specialized assignments require medical volunteers and volunteers on motorcycles.

Registration at the Yale Bowl begins at 6 a.m., the opening ceremony is at 6:45 and the ride begins at 7. Interested employees who want to ride, volunteer or donate should go to rideclosertofree.org.